Published: Wed, December 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

United Kingdom seeks 'legally binding' Brexit promises: minister

United Kingdom seeks 'legally binding' Brexit promises: minister

Mrs May's move to abandon a crunch Commons vote, scheduled for Tuesday, on her Brexit deal drew howls of condemnation from the opposition as well as a number of Tories.

"In 1997, the British prime minister issued an apology to the people of Ireland for their historic role in the great starvation".

Similarly, the Taoiseach said the deal that was set to be voted upon in Parliament was "the only agreement".

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Mrs May acknowledged any deal with the European Union would have to include a backstop to ensure there could be no return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Asked about Ms Sturgeon's criticism of Labour over a second referendum, she added: "What we have said is that our priority is not at this time for a second referendum".

Downing Street said May will meet with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar after a Cabinet session in London.

Speculation that a challenge could be imminent was fuelled after chief whip Julian Smith and Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis were seen leaving No 10 following late-night consultations on Tuesday.

"It's an important position but it's not a blackmail chip I'm afraid, and the Tory party is not going to be held to ransom, and we're not going to have who our leader is, or other policies dictated by other parties in the House of Commons".

The Labour leader is also under pressure from elements of his own party who want him to move a confidence vote against the Government. In particular, she is seeking new negotiations on the issue of avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a key sticking point.

Theresa May has been dealt a heavy blow in her bid to secure new reassurances from fellow EU leaders over her Brexit deal, as the European Commission president declared there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation".

Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon?

"However, that can not be a change in the substance of that agreement including the substance of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland".

Speaking in Brussels, Mrs May said: "The backstop is a necessary guarantee for the people of Northern Ireland - and whatever outcome you want, whatever relationship you want with Europe in the future, there's no deal available that doesn't have the backstop within it".

The Irish Government will be determined that any declaration does not cut across the legally binding withdrawal treaty. And thirdly, it should call for greater assurances from the European Union that the backstop can not function as a permanent relationship. I don't want to see a crash no more than you do, but I also want to say to you as head of Government with a responsibility to advance Irish national interest and to protect everybody, north and south, east and west on this island, you have to now to prepare and plan with your eyes wide open for such an unfortunate scenario.

A UK MP has told the BBC that "the Irish really should know their place" regarding Brexit negotiations.


Patel, who resigned as United Kingdom global development secretary in November previous year amid controversy over her unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials, caused a scathing reaction online and from Irish and British officials for her remarks.

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